The stock market is down. The cost of gasoline is up — and up, and up. America's budget deficit is skyrocketing. Banks are hunkered down in a defensive stance. The media would have you believe that every other person is being foreclosed out of their homes.

So you have to ask yourself: Is now the time to start your own business or expand into other markets? Or should you use that old platitude: "I'm going to wait and see what happens"?

I've got to tell you, I hate that phrase. It's as if one day, magically, there will be someone who flips a switch that will somehow ignite your entrepreneurial career.

But think about it. There is no one person who can tell you for sure that the time is right for you to launch your business. Nor will there be any single event or circumstance that will suddenly make the business climate any more conducive to entrepreneurialism. As much as we'd like to dream that it will, oil is not going to fall back to $30 a barrel. The national budget is not suddenly going to be balanced. Banks are not going to start handing out money without collateral, nor will they offer 125 percent loans on housing.

So "let's wait and see what happens" doesn't really mean we're expecting something extraordinary to happen. "Let's wait and see what happens" really means "I'm afraid" or "I lack confidence" or "I don't really believe in my idea." And if that's the case — if you are fearful or afraid or lack conviction in your ability or your entrepreneurial idea — it doesn't really matter what happens, does it? You're never going to take the plunge, regardless of encouragement from others or a supportive business climate.

That's why I say that for the bold and confident entrepreneur, now is the time. Right now. Go ahead and execute your business plan while everyone else is waiting around for something to happen. There is plenty of investment money available. The Utah Angels and other groups are searching for good investments. Banks are willing to loan money, and there are emerging markets available all day long.

Don't be persuaded by the naysayers and prophets of doom and gloom. While there are a lot of problems in this great country of ours, we still have 95 percent of our population employed, we have mortgage rates at an all-time low and our dollar value versus other currencies is low, which means that our products are cheaper to buy. You can still go to the dollar store and buy incredible items very inexpensively.

Look around at the people you know. Are they about to lose their homes and jobs? Are they taking their kids out of school to put them to work to provide for the family? Has everyone stopped driving their cars and started riding bicycles everywhere? Are you thinking about joining the ranks of the homeless at food kitchen shelters?

When it comes right down to it, life is going along pretty much as usual, which means there is a little fear and trepidation about the future. That's normal. As a nation, we always worry about the future. We live in a free market economy, and it's our job to worry about the future. Nothing is handed to us. We have to make our own future. And we do.

We have the greatest economy in the world. Despite criticism, more people want to come to this country than any other place. We have the greatest natural resources, the greatest financial assets, and the greatest governmental system. All these are the envy of the world.

That's why right now is the time to start your business, when others are holding back in fear of the unknown. This is the time when the right idea, the right management team and the right business execution will work. Don't listen to the gloom and doomers. This country and its economic system will be here for as far into the future as anyone can see. Look at this as a time of opportunity, not a "wait and see" time for an unknown something that will never materialize.

Joseph Ollivier is affiliated with the BYU Center for Entrepreneurship. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]